Serious Games Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate course offerings vary from fully online to on-campus hybrid. Visit the MSU course schedule for current offerings. Michigan State University offers a carefully crafted three-course, transcriptable, university graduate certificate in serious games which can be completed either fully online or on campus through hybrid courses which meet in the classroom with an online component. The program is designed to give game designers, business people, teachers, and researchers graduate-level insight into serious game theories, serious game design, and more-than-human-centered design. Courses include Foundations of Serious Games, Theories of Games and Interaction for Design, and Understanding Users.

Our graduate certificate students include Media & Information graduate students, other MSU graduate students including MAET M.A. students, doctoral students at other universities interested in serious games and gamification. Our online graduate certificate students also include game industry professionals, fortune 500 and small business professionals in many different fields, museum designers, corporate trainers, university professors, and K-12 teachers with an interest in serious games and a desire to add additional knowledge and skills in this important domain.

The certificate program is available to students enrolled in any MSU graduate degree program. It is also available to non-MSU students as a stand-alone, 3-course graduate certificate program. Either approach leads to receiving the “Serious Game Design and Research Graduate Certificate,” also nicknamed the Serious Games Graduate Certificate. The graduate certificate course offerings vary from fully online to on-campus hybrid. Visit the MSU course schedule for current offerings.

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How to Apply

If you're an MI Graduate Student...

You already have permission to enroll in the Serious Games Graduate Certificate courses!  To obtain the certificate after you have completed the courses, contact the director of graduate studies.

Application Deadlines
For new and certificate-only students, all required application materials must be received 8 weeks prior to the new term for admission consideration.
Fall: June 15
Spring: November 15
Additional Information
Current on-campus, non-MI students who do not need to fill out an application through the admissions page may require additional override approval to register for MI classes (i.e. MAET students). Although they may receive course enrollment approval after the deadline dates, these students may have to wait until the subsequent semester to be “admitted” to the Serious Game Design Certificate Program.

The graduate certificate can be completed as a stand-alone certificate by  learners not otherwise enrolled in an MSU degree program, such as game industry professionals already versed in game design who want to expand their knowledge to the domain of serious games, professional educators, and educational technology specialists who want to understand how and why games can be used for learning.

The certificate program exposes students to examples of the current state of the art in the different strands of serious games (games for learning, corporate training, newsgames, games for health, exergames, military games, and games for social change), distribution, and industry structure, theories to inform serious game design, and research methods for understanding players.

To be considered for admission into the graduate certificate in serious game design and research, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree.

Academic Calendar
You can find key dates (for classes starting and ending, and holidays) here.

Required courses for MA Certificate

These can be taken in any order, on campus or fully online.

MI 830 Foundations of Serious Games

(3 credits, spring semesters)

Rationales, principles, processes and pedagogies for serious game design. Applications of serious game genres and simulations. Funding and distribution.

MI 831 Theories of Games and Interaction for Design

(3 credits, fall semesters)

Theories of mediated interaction including communication, learning, health, global and local development, and social justice to inform the design of social systems, games, and media products.

MI 841 Understanding Users

(3 credits, fall semesters)

Research methods used by design teams for asking and answering questions related to digital media arts and technology–before, during, and after design of creative work. The design goals and the design prototype are tested to guide development and evaluate effectiveness.

MSU students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program may propose an alternative graduate research methods course offered in their major in lieu of MI 841 that contributes to their expertise in serious game design and research in their chosen discipline.

Students who initially enroll only for the certificate may eventually decide to pursue a graduate degree from Michigan State University, such as an MA in Media and Information ( or a Master’s of Educational Technology (MAET) (  You may transfer up to 9 credits of graduate certificate credits towards the degree.  All three Serious Game graduate certificate courses would count towards the requirements of either program.